In Avonlea, a gentle breeze
Blows softly through mid-summer leaves,
And tickles ripples from the lake,
Then playful dances on its way.
In Africa, no breath of breeze
To comfort wraith-like, naked trees,
To blow back life to fill the lakes,
And drive the stench of death away.
Does God reside in Avonlea;
In bright and good His rule confine,
While death and night unchallenged rule
Without the bounds of sovereignty?
Or, did He share the agony
To hear discord in His symphony,
Forsake pure joy to take on pain,
Anemic of His majesty?
I will cherish life’s Avonleas
As foretastes of eternity,
But not lift long their joyous cup,
Lest, giddy, shun the cup He took.
When I finished reading “Anne of Green Gables” for the first time I was nearly brought to tears. The beauty, simplicity and wholesome goodness the book portrayed overwhelmed me. Life would surely be nice in Avonlea, surrounded by so much natural beauty and simple, joyful living. The yearning is common I suppose. The morality of commune living in the sixties may have been somewhat suspect, but there was a certain winsomeness to such attempts at living in quiet harmony, away from the pressures and problems of the world. Growing up in Christian boarding school far up in the mountains of Pakistan, gave for me that sense of peaceful contentment found in a loving, tight-knit community. Our cozy Avonleas can occur in any number of settings.
The world, though, mostly consists of places that are anything but peaceful and full of contentment. Millions starve in Africa. Thousands die in the senseless tragedy of war. Billions live in squalid, disease-ridden conditions. And in the United States, though we may not see them from our distant suburbs, thousands sink in the despair of inner city life. And among us, our own friends and neighbors wither with the hidden pain of strife and abuse.
Where would Jesus have as live. The answer is plain if we are to follow His example. He left the glories of heaven to take up suffering, so that the world could be redeemed. He has charged us to carry his gospel to the ends of the earth and feed the hungry, visit the sick and imprisoned and clothe the naked. To be sure, He will bless us in our way with seasons in Avonleas of rest and contentment, but these must remain but foretastes of eternity. Until heaven we must live with the holy restlessness of reaching a world in desperate need of the gospel of Jesus Christ.